The Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression has obtained just four convictions out of 803 investigations into crimes against journalists since its creation more than eight years ago.
In other words, 99.5% of investigations have failed to arrest and/or prosecute the perpetrators of crimes against media workers in Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to practice journalism.
In that context, National Action Party Senator Marco Antonio Gama Basarte last month presented a proposal that seeks to create a new, completely autonomous special prosecutor’s office to investigate crimes against both journalists and human rights defenders.
Mexico needs a strong and independent prosecutor’s office in order to “guarantee the institutional commitment we have with journalists and people who defend human rights,” he said while presenting his bill on December 12.
“. . . Attacks [on journalists] have increased 30% in recent years,” Gama said, noting that 11 journalists were killed in Mexico in 2019 as well as at least 13 human rights defenders.
“That’s why we’re seeking to guarantee . . . access to the administration of justice and protection of the right to express oneself freely with certainty, peace and tranquility in the exercise of one’s profession,” he said.
The senator also said that an average of 23 journalists per month requested government protection last year, adding that the funds to provide such protection were cut in the federal budgets for both 2019 and 2020.
President López Obrador has come under fire for contributing to a culture of violence against journalists by launching scathing verbal attacks on reporters and news outlets that are critical of his government.
The president often dismisses reports with which he doesn’t agree by declaring that they come from the prensa fifi (elitist press) and has called journalists and news outlets “puppets,” “hypocrites” and “two-faced,” among other disparaging terms.
After López Obrador criticized a story published by the Mexico City-based newspaper Reforma in April last year, the paper’s editor received death threats and was a victim of harassment.
Article 19, a press freedom organization, said at the time that the president’s “stigmatizing discourse [against the media] . . . has a direct impact in terms of the . . . risk it can generate for the work of the press because [his remarks] permeate in the discourse of the rest of society and can even generate attacks.”
The organization demanded that López Obrador “abstain from generating any act that inhibits the exercise of freedom of expression,” adding “this includes maintaining a stigmatizing discourse” against the media.
Source: El Financiero (sp)